This morning, our brother in Christ, Donald Heiliger, was taken to his heavenly home. Our prayers certainly go forward for Cheryl and family as we morn his earthly loss. At this Easter time, we especially think of what the resurrection of our Savior means for all who trust in his saving merits, especially as we consider the glorious day of the resurrection of the body, where fellow believers are all reunited in glory with the Savior. May God comfort all who morn Don’s loss, even as we also give thanks to the Lord for his life of service in the defense of our country.
We think of the words of our Savior to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).
March 26 2016
I’m sending this email (and attached blogs) to a number of people that I thought might be interested in the below.
On Monday, March 28th, the flag, at the order of the Governor of Wis. will be at half mast in honor of Don Heiliger.
I got to know Don when I served as vacancy pastor at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Madison. My service was not all that long and Don was obviously dealing with health issues so I don’t claim to have known him well and certainly not long. Nor did he regularly talk about himself and what he all went through.
You can read as much as you like about him in some of the blogs below (that a mutual friend mailed to me), but for now…Don was a US Air Force pilot who was shot down during the Vietnam war. He was captured and imprisoned for over 6 years where he was tortured, beaten, etc.. He was at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton”. In the early years he was in solitary confinement. He told me that he would each Sunday have a church service in his mind, singing hymns, preaching a sermon, praying, etc.. In later years, as the war was coming to an end, he was with other prisoners. When he was with others…he would be the “preacher” for the other prisoners and share as much as he was allowed to do.
The point is…the Gospel of the Resurrected Lord sustained him during some very difficult times. And…more than that….he boldly and gladly shared that faith in Jesus with others. Many years after his release, he had some Government job in Israel. Here he was very involved in starting/maintaining a Lutheran presence in the area of Tel Aviv. The last Christmas that I served as the pastor of the church, he,as was the tradition, with much difficulty, got into the altar area and read the Christmas account of the birth of Jesus during the Christmas Eve Service. I don’t think I will forget that experience.
My wife and I visited Don just a few days before the Lord called him home. It was my joy to share the Gospel with him (II Cor. 5:19) while a patient in the VA hospital in Madison.
I’m sharing all of this so that when you see the flag lowered, you know a bit more about the man for whom it will be lowered. I do it now just hours before we celebrate the Resurrection of our Savior. Jesus does live. It sustained Don….he now enjoys the fruit of that completely. As you look at our flag on Monday, may it remind you not just of a “hero”, but of one of your brothers in the faith who is now with his Jesus.
A most blessed Easter to each of you.